Social Security Disability Benefits for Rheumatoid Arthritis Explored in Recent Article

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)—a potentially debilitating autoimmune disease—currently afflicts about 0.6% of the adult population in the United States (affecting women about 2-3 times more often than men).  It generally results in an inflammatory disorder that attacks joints, making movements painful and disabling.  Left inadequately treated, sufferers can be rendered immobile or severely hindered.  And, while a number of treatment options are currently available, many with RA—even those that are diligent with treatments—lack the same ability to function they once had before becoming symptomatic.

Therefore, it is important to many suffering from RA to be able to access Social Security Disability benefits.  And a recent article (found here: discussed some of the relevant issues.

Generally, to qualify for benefits, RA must cause “significant impairments in your ability to work.”  This technically translates into needing to show satisfaction of at least one of a number of requirements, such as (1) the RA being present in a joint in your legs, causing significant walking difficulty, or (2) the RA affecting joints in both arms, precluding performance of many types of tasks, or (3) the RA manifests in ankylosing spondylitis or another spondyloarthropathy—among others.

Importantly, however, someone with RA that does not meet the Social Security Administration’s precise medical requirements can still receive benefits if the sufferer can show an inability to perform consistent work.

Broadly, for the SSA to approve a request for benefits based on RA, the applicant’s records must contain an explicit diagnosis of RA, a doctor’s attestations of the frequency and severity of symptoms, blood test results suggesting a likelihood of the disease, and treatment history.

The SSA uses information published by the Arthritis Foundation to guide its decisions on RA-related benefits.  So, for more information on this topic, see